Exercise Music: Tunes to Get Fit By
Want to have more fun and work out harder? Exercise with music, experts say.
Kolber relies on music for her own workouts: "If I forget my headphones," she says, "sometimes I leave the gym. I just can't work out."
Here are eight tips from our experts on how to choose exercise music and use music to enhance your fitness:
1. Use technology. Surely you remember buying your first album? Or, depending on how early you discovered the joys of music, maybe it was an eight-track tape. Remember spending hours trying to make cassette music mixes for friends? Those days are over. With iTunes and other music downloading web sites, you can easily download a variety of music for your MP3 player, customize your listening system to whatever inspires you, then groove for hundreds of hours.
2. Get personal. If the person next to you is rocking out to "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" by KT Tunstall, but you've never ventured past your Credence Clearwater Revival days, so be it. "Music is very subjective," says Alan. So if you have fine memories of dancing to Madonna and old-school Michael Jackson, don't let your husband talk you into putting an old Kiss song on your playlist.
3. Get rhythm. You don't have to play an instrument or be able to read music to be "musical," says Alan. When exercising to music, many people automatically match the cadence of their movement to the tempo and rhythm of the song that's playing. If you tend to do that, keep it upbeat. You may love the mellow sounds of Josh Groban, but save that for a stretch or Pilates workout, rather than trying to power walk to it.
"Play around," advises Kolber. "Put two songs together with different tempos. Make one a little faster and one slower," and see how it affects your pace. If you tend to match your stride to the beat, she says, it's more important to choose rhythmic songs that will keep your cadence up.
4. Outsmart yourself. Kolber says she creates mixes with a strong, motivating tune every three or four songs, because that's when she tends to fade. Know yourself, she advises. Acknowledge your weak points and stay one step ahead of yourself.
"Right around 25 minutes, when you're just dying to get off, pop in some strong songs during that time to get you through," she says.
5. Make your playlists before you hit the gym. This can be a great stall tactic: Getting to the gym, waiting for your favorite treadmill to become available, then choosing the songs you want to listen to, one by one. You won't get the same workout if you're continually stopping to switch playlists or find a better song. Create your music mix before leaving the house, or, when you have some spare time, create a few workout music mixes to choose from.